A man charged with assault for spitting on a taxi driver was fined €500 at Galway District Court.
Carlos Gomes (44), with an address at Raharney, Mullingar denied spitting on the taxi driver, claiming that he was the one subject to abuse.
Garda Christopher Dowry told the District Court that on November 11, 2018 he got a report of an alleged assault at The Salthill Hotel shortly after 2am.
A taxi driver said that he got a call from his company to go pick up a group of people at the Salthill Hotel from their dispatch system.
After waiting outside the hotel for several minutes he went inside to tell the group, a man and two women, that their taxi was here.
The two women came out and sat in the back of the taxi and said that they would be going to Jurys Inn.
When the driver remarked as much to Gomes when he sat in the front, Gomes snapped “You’ll go where I tell you and do what I want,” the driver said.
The driver then immediately stopped the car and asked Gomes to get out because he felt threatened.
Gomes became aggressive, crowding him against the door and spitting at him three times the court heard, hitting him in the face once.
He remarked that “Fifteen years of driving a taxi and I’ve never had something like that happen”.
When he spoke to the taxi driver inside his car, Garda Dowry said that he was “visibly distressed” and that his hands were shaking.
CCTV footage from the hotel was viewed, the garda said, but while it showed the two having what appeared to be a “heated discussion”, the full view.wss obscured Gatda Dowry said.
Mr Gomes denied the incident, saying that when the taxi driver came into the hotel he started yelling at them for making him wait.
Inside the taxi Gomes said the driver “lost it” when he said there was no need to yell, ordering him out.ofnthe car and saying he had called the guards.
He admitted that he had been drinking since they were at a party that day, but denied being drunk.
The two other women who were in the taxi ,and a bouncer at the hotel, all declined to make statements to gardaí.
Judge Mary Fahy said that it was shocking that an adult man would resort to spitting during an argument.
“I know punching can cause marks, but spitting is a low manner of assault,” the judge said.
Judge Fahy said that without anyone else to give testimony it boiled down to a matter of credibility between the two accounts.
She said she found the taxi driver’s account “totally plausible”, and asked why he would sit in court all day if this didn’t happen.
The judge imposed a fine of €500 for the assault, and awarded the driver €300 for lost earnings for having to spend the day in court.